Monday, October 6, 2014

Cheesy Beef Lasagna

Hi Everyone!
Clearly, I have been spending WAAAYYY too much time with my new breakfast sandwich maker.   It is the bomb but I need to get back to some blogging, right?  Well, if I can be honest I stopped blogging mainly because I was doing (still am) Nutri System.  Kinda difficult to be making all these luscious recipes AND trying to lose weight.  So far lost 45 pounds, yet it is still is a struggle only because my husband is NOT needing to lose weight that I have to prepare dinner for him and/or us. It's very complicated...regardless onto what I made this weekend.

For this month of October, I tried a recipe provided by sponsored by PAM®.  I was glad to take this on because I use PAM® A LOT.  When you are on a diet plan that wants you to eat virtually no FAT, then I use PAM® every time I cook.  I always used it whether on a diet or not. The Allrecipe Ambassador Allstars had a nice long list of recipes to choose from and since I had many of the ingredients for Lasagna and the weather is starting to turn cold, this was an ideal choice.

Lasagna recipes are funny....some people have the only ONE family recipe they use and none other and others try different ones all the time.  Other than a white lasagna or veggie one.  Are they really THAT different?  Phhffftt.... I think that a basic meat lasagna and it's prep is pretty standard.


This one was particularly attractive because you DON'T BOIL THE NOODLES!  Yay!!!!  Just so you know....whether you use the regular noodle to boil or the special noodles that say NO's all the same.  You never have to boil them.  I find a lot of people don't know this.

Use what you got, it doesn't matter.  However fresh pasta (if you can find lasagna noodles in your freezer section of the grocery) are THE BOMB!  The following is the recipe I used and for your entertainment at the bottom of the recipe I will add all the little tips and tricks I do to make my lasagna making easier (I am a Family and Consumer Science teacher in case you forgot, so I have a plethora of fun tips and tricks!)

Cheesy Beef Lasagna
-recipe from
JennyMac's Lipsmack adapted changes below

PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup water, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck beef (80% lean)
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Hunt's® Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
2 1/2 cups Hunt's® Tomato Sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
9 dry lasagna noodles, uncooked
2 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup Kraft® Grated Parmesan Cheese

 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with PAM® cooking spray. Combine ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons water, parsley and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl; set aside.

 2. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion; sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 7 minutes or until beef is crumbled and no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more or until fragrant. Drain. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, remaining water, vinegar and red pepper flakes to skillet. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 3. Assemble lasagna by spreading about 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of dish. Place 3 dry noodles over sauce, top with 2 cups meat sauce, half of ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of noodles topped with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

 4. Spray underside of aluminum foil with PAM® cooking spray; cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes:
1. First, are you going to eat this today, tomorrow or next month.  Crucial information.  Making today, spray your favorite (suggested deep dish) 9X13 pan.  Making tomorrow, spray.  BUT, if you are making for later to FREEZE, then line your favorite pan with foil, then spray with PAM.  Make your lasagna and FREEZE.  After two days of it finally being rock hard remove the lasagna from the pan with the foil so you can reuse your favorite 9X13 pan.  Why would you hold a pan hostage in the freezer like that?  Use foil and pop it out when it's frozen. Easy peasy!

2.  Ricotta cheese- 3 types, Nonfat, part skim and whole fat.  Use what you need.  If on a dietary restriction or trying to cut the fat in your whatever you NEED, don't be a slave to what a recipe dictates!  Make it so it works for YOU!  I choose part skim and I didn't use water because I used a beaten egg to help firm it up a bit.  I used a 1/4 cup liquid egg stuff it has no fat to help on the calorie content as well. As for parsley, use what you have...either dried or fresh.  I still had some from the garden this summer but use dried if that is all you have got.

3.  Beef and onion.  I used 1 pound 95% fat beef and 3 hot italian sausages and one whole onion.  GEEZ, it's a one pan meal here!  I am gonna use one whole onion....I don't have to time to peel, chop and MEASURE out 3/4 cup of onion.  I felt crazy enough to throw in the last poblano pepper from our garden too.  No crime in adding more veggies!  What is your SPICE/HEAT capacity?  As for the 3 hot italian sausages, one poblano that 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes did not ZING up the lasagna enough for my husband.  His only complaint was that this needed more ZIP.  I am the one with the higher tolerance for spicy foods so coming from HIM that means something.  So add more hot pepper flakes if you need to...I was trying to keep it calm for K-man and he said it was lacking so punch it up if you want.  Just taste will know.

4.  Assembling the lasagna- I felt weird putting 1 cup of sauce down first but it needs are using DRY do it.  Those DRY puppies need something to slurp up and make them soft, so don't be stingy. However I did not put 3 noodles but 4!!!  It was too much exposed lasagna layers to do it that way even though I know they will expand...but they won't expand straight across perfectly separating my layers!!!  So I had plenty to spare so I went rogue and did 4 per layer.  I also wet them.  Start the absorption please!  As for the cheese I used 3 cheeses.  The recipe said CHEESY Beef Lasagna.  Two cheeses weren't cheesy enough for me.  I like the meltability of Monterey Jack cheese as opposed to the stringy-ness of the Mozzarella and the potent tang of the Parmesan.  I wanted to make my own blend.  I added an additional cup of Monterey Jack to the Mozzarella and parmesan.

5.  I sprayed the foil and covered and put it in the fridge for the next day.  I never make a lasagna and eat it the same day.  I think my lasagna tastes better this way.  Of course the cooking time will be twice as long heating it up stone cold as opposed to warm from the preparation.  All the seasonings, and herbs and garlic all just co-mingle and be better the first day....rather as leftovers when everything had time to 'sit'.  The next day, preheat your oven bake for 1 and 1/2 until bubble with foil and NO CHEESE.  Remove foil and add remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes until all melted and bubbly.  Put in your garlic bread to toast.....and let it stand for another 15 minutes (this is a must!) I don't care how hungry you are and if the kids are chanting and banging their forks on the table.  The lasagna needs to set or you will not get a piece like this...

See?  No sauce running all over or cheese oozing out.  It's a must!  Just a simple spinach salad on the side.  And look at how swollen these noodles get?!

The noodle were swelling practically over the handle on the glass dish.  SO use a deep dish pan if you have one.  If not....put a cookie sheet under the dish just in case.  We will have it again tonight for dinner then the rest must go wrapped up as individual servings in the freezer.  Yes, the husband K-man has a two day limit to all leftovers.  Back when I was single, this was my lunch and dinner for a WEEK!

Enjoy, we did!


We Are Not Martha said...

Welcome back!! This lasagna is the perfect way to make a return :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you �� so much! Can't wait to try this. Love your sense of humor:)!

Nora@SunnyDaysWithMyLoves said...

Love the foil trick! I don't make ahead casseroles much anymore, but when I did I always made them in disposable foil pans. I love the idea of just freezing them in a foil lined baking dish, that's just brilliant! :-)